As deportations of Mexicans who are in the U.S. illegally increase, Mexico's top diplomats in North Texas and the surrounding region signed accords Friday with the U.S. government, building on safety measures for the removal of women, children and those with disabilities.
The accords establish clear procedures for notifying families or Mexico's family welfare agency of a minor's return, among other things, said Dallas-based Mexican Consul Enrique Hubbard.
Mexican consulates around the nation have signed such accords or plan to in the weeks ahead, said a Mexican government official.
The measure comes as deportations and other removals of illegal immigrants jumped 26 percent in the last fiscal year, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nationwide last year, about 367,000 people of all nationalities were formally deported, or removed in a legal process known as voluntary return.
The U.S. government also stiffened charges against illegal immigrants, issuing criminal charges for nonviolent offenses that previously had been treated as administrative infractions.
Last fiscal year, there were nearly 80,000 immigration prosecutions, double the previous year, out of about 156,000 prosecutions in U.S. federal courts, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The lead criminal charge was improper entry into the U.S., with nearly 50,000 prosecutions. Texas judicial districts lead the nation, the research group says.
Hubbard said that the two governments had worked on the accord for more than four years - before the crackdown. Earlier consular accords dating to the early 1960s provide some structure to the process by calling for country returns of women and children in daylight hours, for example.
Hubbard praised the accord for setting additional rules for "repatriations of vulnerable people done in an orderly and humane way."
Likewise, Nuria Prendes, the top U.S. official for detention and removal operations for ICE in Dallas, acknowledged at a signing ceremony the long-standing cooperation between the two governments on repatriations.
Prendes noted that ICE typically doesn't have a minor in its custody for long and refers the minor to the U.S. government's Office of Refugee Resettlement during processing.